Fantasy Football Ruined My Life

Posted on July 31, 2011 by

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It’s that time of year again.  The sun is shining, the trees are blossoming, the world is abuzz outside my window; and yet a dark vigour is keeping me chained to my computer screen, imploring me to stay indoors.  This omnipotent force has ruined relationships, turned life-long friends against one another, even taken lives.  I talk, of course, of Fantasy Football.  “Fantasy Football?” you may scoff.  But for he who questions such claims has never truly been submerged by this factitious pastime.

I may be exaggerating slightly, however as I sit here in July pondering which of the newly promoted Championship sides’ set-piece takers will offer the best value coming off the bench for my latest fantasy XI, I have to seriously ask myself whether it’s really worth it.  Do I really want to put myself through another season of torment?  My head says no.  My heart also says no, but I’ll go ahead and pick a team nonetheless.

To the uninitiated, the object of the game is to select a team of Premier League players that will accrue the most points over a given season.  Points are awarded for keeping clean sheets, providing assists, scoring goals and more arbitrarily for just playing well.  Each player comes with a price tag predetermined by their supposed point scoring capabilities and everyone has the same budget to ‘spend’ on their team. Throughout the season underperforming players can be transferred out for new ones. So far, so stupid.

Once the teams have been picked it’s up to us so-called managers to decide how much time and attention we are willing to lavish on them.  The majority of people – the normal ones – will take a relaxed, hands-off approach to management. The Avram Grant technique, if you will.  Sure, for the first couple of weeks they’ll log on and see how their team is performing, maybe even make a few changes.  However, once the realisation sets in of just how futile an endeavour participation is, they will essentially throw in the towel and leave their assembled group of professionals alone to do their thing.

That’s them.  Then there’s us.  The obsessives.  The devotees.  Fantasy Football encompasses every waking moment of our lives.  We can’t eat without thinking of new ways to incorporate both Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole in to our back lines.  We can’t sleep for fear of an Antonio Valencia price rise before the start of the next game week.  We’re checking for the latest injury news on our iPhones in the pub on Friday night.  Were getting up early on Saturday morning in order to make our weekly transfers as close to the deadline as is humanly possible.  There’s no use in denying it. We are addicted.

My competitive spirit reached whole new levels last season, to the point where I was withholding team news from work colleagues in order to gain an edge.  This is not normal behaviour.  Neither is tuning in to Blackburn vs. Stoke in Saturday’s early kick off with the sole purpose of seeing if Matty Etherington manages to snatch himself an assist.  The whole way in which I watch and appreciate football has become warped.  As a Chelsea fan I know that at various points during the upcoming season I will be disappointed when my team scores.  Why?  Because it will be Frank Lampard finding the net when he could have passed to Florent Malouda, who I’ve foolishly chosen to select that week.  There’s incongruity in the supporting of individual players.  This now an established part of how I follow football and I don’t like it.

They say it matters more when there’s money on it, and it’s certainly true that it matters more when there’s a chance to go ahead of your best mate in a friends league.  But again this can’t be normal.  You haven’t experienced pain until you’ve turned on Final Score at 4:45pm on a Saturday to discover that Berbatov’s scored five and your rival has him as his captain.  27th November 2010 was a dark, dark day for me because exactly that happened.  I don’t think I ate that night such was my torment.

I shall be wasting the majority of the next fortnight making adjustment to my side off the back of how well players are doing in meaningless pre-season friendlies.  So much of the game is down to luck and yet still I’ll trawl numerous websites to ascertain whether or not Samir Nasri is to return from injury at the weekend.  What’s that?  David Moyes is on Sky Sports News discussing which midfielder he’s likely to start out of position upfront against Swansea? I’ll be with you in a second.

I realise this is not only ridiculous but also pathetic.  Yet still I seek the thrill of seeing that little green arrow next to my team’s name come Monday morning.

If you’d like to join me in my pursuit of the pointless, you can join The Trawler’s fantasy league with code 361678-165806 at http://fantasy.premierleague.com/

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Posted in: Football